Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 5
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1999|
|What does it mean to be “chosen”? How can you know if you are one of the chosen ones?|
Chosen in Christ
Turn with me to the book of Ephesians chapter 1. Someone was visiting recently and said, “Did you know you’re going to absolutely wear out the book of Ephesians?” Well, I hope so because there is a lot of truth there we need to understand.
Instead of us saying, “Lord, bless me,” according to verse 3 of chapter 1, we ought to be saying, “Thank you Lord for having so richly blessed me in Christ Jesus.” What we need is already there in Him. Every spiritual blessing has been given to us already in Christ Jesus. Let’s go back and read verse 3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Every spiritual benefit. Remember that word “blessing” has the idea of grace, of kindness, of advantage. Every spiritual benefit, every spiritual advantage has been given to us in Christ Jesus. It’s not something we take ourselves. It’s something He gives to us. It’s all resident in Him. Not one has been left out. This is important.
Many of us spend our time asking God for something that we already have. We pray for love, but the spirit of Christ is already within us. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us He is there to produce whatever area of love we need. We pray for peace, but Jesus has already said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” We pray for joy. In John 15:11 Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you so my joy may be in you and that your joy may be made full.” We pray for strength, but Philippians 4:13 says that he is constantly infusing strength within us. “I can do all things through Christ who consistently and constantly infuses His strength within us.” In fact II Peter 1:3 tells us God’s “divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” Colossians 2:10 says, we “are complete in Him.” And our text says we have been given “every spiritual blessing…in Christ.” Now what else is there? If we could just understand it.
Paul says, in verse 18 of Ephesians 1, “I pray that your heart might be enlightened.” It has to come at a point when God just turns on the light. You can memorize the verses and still not know what He’s talking about. You can memorize all this truth, but until God gets it to where it needs to be, when it’s revealed to our spirit, only then can it take hold in our life. We receive it and obey it, and it becomes a part of our life.
Our resources in Christ are beyond what we can comprehend. Every Christian has what Paul speaks of in Ephesians 1:3. God cannot give us any more that He has already given us in Christ Jesus. Outside of Him there is nothing. I made the statement a few months ago that if you walk away from Jesus you’re walking away to nothing because there is nothing outside of Jesus. If you try to add anything to Jesus, you subtract from Him because you can’t add anything to Him. Everything is resident in Him. That’s why we preach Christ. When you come to know Christ He is your life, and in Him is resident every spiritual blessing that God could ever give you. In fact, our position and our possessions are so secure that Paul says in Ephesians 2:6, “He has already raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in heavenly places.” Now as far as God’s concerned, it’s a done deal. We’re down here understanding this stuff. We’re down here trying to appropriate it in our life. But as far as God is concerned, it is already done. We’ve already been raised and seated with Christ in the heavenlies.
We’re going to look at verse 4, and I want you to see how it fits with verse 3. Verse 3 says, “He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.” Verse 4 says “He has chosen us in Christ.” Blessed in Christ, chosen in Christ. Understanding this will do wonders in our Christian walk. The worse fear that any of us have is the fear of being rejected. Now you know that’s true. All of us have it. We see in a magazine that a girl has to have a certain figure or she’s not acceptable. So people end up doing all kinds of things to try and get that certain figure. That is not from the Word of God. That’s a lie out of the pit of Hell. But that’s what our society says. If you look a certain way, you can be accepted. With the guys it’s different. They have got to be macho. If they are a basketball player they have to jump four feet off the floor and do crazy things in the air or they are not macho and not accepted by others. Where is that in the Word of God? It’s not in the Word of God.
And so what happens is we live with this fear of being rejected. Paul is saying, “Listen, we have been accepted. We have been chosen before the foundation of the world in Christ Jesus.” Where do you want to find your acceptance? Do you want to find it with your peers in this world? Or do you want to find it with the Lord Jesus Christ and with God, God the Father? God the Father is telling us something in here. Paul is trying to get a message across. We have been chosen. Not only blessed in Christ, but we have been chosen in Him. The greatest thing in a believer’s life is to come to understand what it means to be chosen before the foundation of the world in Christ Jesus.
Well, we’re going to look at that in verse 4. Let’s read it together. He starts off and says, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” Verse 4 starts with an adverb. He has just finished verse 3. It’s all tied together. He has blessed us in Christ. Then he says, “just as He chose us in Christ”. An adverb is a word that qualifies the meaning of a verb by indicating the time, the place, or the manner in which the action is accomplished. In other words, He chose us now and He blessed us. Our being chosen occurred, just the way our being blessed occurred. There’s something in common between the two. That’s what we’re going to see in a moment. But why did he choose us? Why did he bless us? It’s here, but we won’t get to it until later. There is a commonality there. He blessed us in Christ just as He chose us in Christ. Paul is saying that there is something common between the two things, and we need to understand what that is.
Before we even look at that let’s look at that little phrase “just as He chose us in Him”. Look at the term “he chose”. “He chose” is the Greek word eklego. Again it comes from two Greek words: ek–out of, and lego, which means to select or choose for oneself. It implies a relationship between the one choosing and the object chosen. Now whether you like it or not the word “chosen” means you’ve got a basketball team and there’s ten guys on the team. Only five can go on the floor. You choose this one, and you choose this one and you choose this one, but somebody is not chosen. That’s what the word by implication means. Now it doesn’t necessarily mean rejection, however, that’s the way we understand the word. It means to be chosen out from among.
It’s an aorist middle verb. Aorist tense means at a specific time. He’s going to tell you when that was. Middle voice means He chose for Himself of His own will. No one made Him do it. Remember he’s still speaking of the Father. The same Father that blessed us in Christ Jesus is now the same Father that has chosen us in Christ Jesus. Kindness in the grace of the one choosing is implied in the verb eklego. In other words, the choosing was all out of God’s kindness, all out of God’s love. So when you think of your salvation, that’s what you think of when you think of eklego. You think of being blessed in Christ, but you think of being chosen in Christ Jesus.
The scriptures have much to say about this. Look in John 6:44. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Now that’s unless the Father draws him. That little Greek word hepguo means it has the idea of being irresistibly drawn. It’s used in secular Greek, I understand, of a person who has been hungry for days and days and days and is drawn to food, irresistibly drawn to food. It also carries the idea and is used of demonic forces being drawn to swine when they have no human bodies left to indwell.
I have a friend who works down in Florida. He runs a salvage yard. I call it a junk yard, he calls it a salvage business. He’s a wonderful Christian. He has a cap that says “Junk is Beautiful.” They have this huge magnet on a crane, and that thing will come over, drop down, get those cars and pick those cars up as if they were nothing but paper. It will swing them over, demagnetize, drop them down in this big press and pull away. Then they take this car, and smash it down. The idea of that magnet is what I want you to see. When you pull that magnet over something everything is irresistibly pulled right up to it. That’s kind of the idea that we have here when it says that “the Father must draw him to me.” God chose us, and the way we know we are chosen is by the fact that we are drawn.
One night I was preaching on this at Precept. A fellow came running down the aisle at the end with tears streaming down his face. He said, “Oh, I’ve struggled with this. I now know I’m chosen.” I said, “How do you know you’re chosen?” He said, “Because I know I have been strangely drawn unto Him.” How do you know you’re chosen? You’re drawn. That’s the key. Jesus said until the Father draws you nobody can come unto me.
Let’s look in John 6:37. Jesus said, “all that the Father gives me shall come to me and the one who comes to me I will certainly not cast out.” The idea is that there are those who are chosen and will come to Him, that are drawn to Him and He will not cast out. So we see first of all, God chose us. Now please understand something. Paul is trying to show believers the fact that they didn’t choose Him. God chose them. And that’s the wonderful thing about being accepted is to know that God chose us. We’ll see in a moment when that was.
But what about the responsibility of man to choose? Does the Bible teach anything about that? Oh, does it ever. Look in John 3:15. Will you look there with me? He says that “whoever” and that little word pas that means everyone, anyone. It means whoever comes. Not the ones I’ve chosen, not the ones I’ve rejected but whoever. Every man on this earth has been given a measure of faith, it tells us over in Romans. And that measure of faith when it is confronted with the Gospel, at the moment that man hears God’s word, he has the ability to open the door and let God in. Every man that is created has that ability. It says in verse 15 that “whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” And you say it with me. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” If you will look at the Greek it just absolutely opens it up that anybody, at any time, at any place may make the response to receive the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s look in II Peter 3:9. It’s talking about judgment here, and he says in verse 9 “the Lord is not slow about His promises as some count slowness but is patient toward you.” Now you look at it yourself. What does your translation say? “not wishing” or desiring “for” what? “any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” God has the whole world in His mind, not just certain ones. He has the whole world on His heart.
Look at I Timothy 2:3-4. It’s very clearly taught there. I don’t see how you can get around it. In Scripture is the choice of man and the ability to choose. Now watch in these verses. “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our savior.” Verse 4 speaks of God our savior. “Who desires all men,” and that’s all men, anthropos. Ladies, it doesn’t just mean males. “All men,” all mankind “to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” and on and on and on.
Now you say, “Now I’m confused because I don’t understand. You just said that we have been chosen. If we have been chosen that means to be singled out and chosen out from among. That’s true. But you also said that whosoever will may come.” Now this becomes a dilemma when you try to understand it. There are some things about God and the uniqueness and mystery of salvation we’re never going to understand down here. Now the simplest way to say this is like this: God already knew who would reject Him so He went ahead and chose the ones who would accept Him. That’s been the simplest answer for many people for many years and years and years. I don’t think it’s quite that simple, but that’s ok if that helps you. But what I’m trying to say is both are taught in God’s Word: the responsibility and the ability of man to choose.
Revelation 3:20 says, “and behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice and opens the door I will come into him and sup with him.” In other words the moment you hear Him comes the ability the open the door and let Him in. You may hear Him speaking through Wayne or someone else. How can you reconcile “election” and “free will”? Somebody said, “Do you have to reconcile two people who are friends?” As a matter of fact, Barnhouse said when we get to heaven there’s going to be a big banner, “Whosoever will may come.” And all the Baptists will stand up and say, “Yea, we told you.” And you’re going to walk up underneath that banner and the back of it is going to say, “Chosen before the foundations of the world,” because they just go together.
In other words, sometimes when you come to verses like this you have to drop a plumb bob. Do you know what a plumb bob is? That is something that gives balance. On one side of the plumb bob put the doctrine of election. It’s taught, very clearly taught in scripture. We are irresistibly drawn. The Father draws us to Him and chooses us. Put that on one side. On the other side put the responsibility of man to choose and the ability to choose the fate that God has already given him. And don’t you dare touch it. If you move it either way you’re out of balance. You take your shoes off, you walk in on holy ground, you say, “God, you chose. I chose. Somebody chose. I’m just glad it’s all over. And I’m glad that I’ve been chosen. And I’m glad that I’ve been blessed in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
God has so devised salvation that once we’re in we can never pat ourselves on the back and say we chose because God chose first. It’s taught. But if we go to hell we can never say God sent us because we sent ourselves by refusing to choose that which He has given to us. It’s incredible how He has designed our salvation.
Just so you might understand, you were chosen long before the foundation of the world. Let’s go back and look at that because that is our next point. When did God make His choice? Go back to verse 4 of our text in Ephesians chapter 1. “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” Now notice, it’s “in Him.” If Christ had not come and died there would have been no choosing. That’s part of the plan. Not only was it a part that we be chosen, but the lamb was prepared before the foundation of the world. All of that was devised by the counsel of God in heaven. The word “foundation” is the Greek word katabole. It refers to a laying down or a founding of something. The word for “world” refers to the order, the disposition, the arrangement of the world. Now I don’t know about you, but if you haven’t read ahead of me in Ephesians, this doesn’t mean anything to you.
But if you’ve gone ahead and read through the book of Ephesians, it ought to get you a little bit excited. Before there was ever a world, now listen, or before there was ever a system in the world, especially an evil system that Satan himself propagated, long before there was a system, long before there was a world or an arrangement in the world, God made a choice. Long before all of that by His foreknowledge He knew what would take place, and He went ahead and provided and made a choice. And you and I were chosen in Christ way back before the foundation of this world.
As a matter of fact, some people feel like, “Well, I’ve got to do something to deserve that choice.” Do you realize He chose us before we were even thought of as far as the human race is concerned? He chose us before we were ever born, before we were ever able to do something to make us worthy of Him choosing us. He made the choice way back when. I’m telling you, I wish we could take more verses at one time. But if we do I’m afraid we’re going to miss something.
He has blessed us in Christ Jesus. With how many blessings? Every spiritual blessing. But not only has He blessed us now, it goes further back than that. He chose us before the foundation of the world. You are very special to God. He chose you before the foundation of the world. When Peter uses this in his letter to the persecuted believers in Asia Minor, he says, “I write to the elect scattered throughout Asia Minor.” He was saying the height of rejection is persecution, but the height of acceptance is being chosen. People, realize that you’ve been chosen. All of us know what it means to be rejected. Everyone of us has been rejected. But who have we been rejected by? Not by God, but by people who are really our peers. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that God has accepted us. And God has chosen us in Christ Jesus. I tell you that if that finally sinks in, and my prayer is that it will, it will just literally set you free in your understanding of why you need to live a life filled with praise to God the Father. The world is going to reject us. It’s already rejected us. People are going to reject us. But that’s not even the point. God has accepted us in the Beloved. He knew all the warts that we had, and He still accepted us. He still chose us before the foundation of the world.
When I was growing up I was skinny and tall. As a matter of fact, they called me all kinds of things. Wayne was one of the nicer things. I had such a self image problem. I couldn’t hit the ball when I played baseball. I couldn’t walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. And I grew up feeling an inward rejection by the people around me. I’m grateful I had a good family. My heart goes out to people who didn’t have a good family. I mean if you add that in to it, can you imagine how miserable some people are? One day I understood that Jesus had come to die for me, and I began to understand that God had chosen me long before I ever drew breath on the face of this earth. And then when Christ came into my life He blessed me with every spiritual blessing there is in the heavenlies. And you know, that does something for your whole understanding of who you are in Christ, your position in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Why in the world would you hang your head? You’ve been blessed in Him with every blessing, and you’ve been chosen in Him. What else is necessary for you to live a victorious Christian life?
Tony Evans gave an illustration at a conference in 1992 that I want to share with you. He talked about what it means to be in Christ and what it means to be identified with Him. He is the Chaplain of the Dallas Mavericks. He gets free tickets because he’s the chaplain. He sits right there on the floor with the team. He said he has some buddies and every time his wife and family do not want to go to the game, he calls up his buddies and he says,
“Come on guys. Go to the game with me tonight.” He says, “Now listen, don’t worry about driving your car. You’re with me. You go with me. You don’t have to park six blocks away and walk. You get to park in the VIP section because you are with me. Don’t worry about having to stop and get supper. Don’t worry about carrying it in in a bag. You’re with me.
We’re going to go into the special VIP dining room, and we’re going to have our own banquet-style dinner. Don’t worry, you are with me. Don’t worry about having to go through all those long lines at the ticket booth. You’re with me. We’ll go over to that little side door and go in. We’ll go down the elevator and be right there. Don’t worry about having to fight your way in to find your seat. You’re with me. We’re going to go out the team entrance, and we’re going to sit on the floor. Everybody is going watch us walk in and sit down. Don’t worry about it. You’re with me.”
Well, I can’t tell you how that blessed me. Boy, I’ve had more fun with that illustration especially since I got into Ephesians. I’m identified with Him. It’s kind of like somebody says, “You want to fight me, buddy. He’s my buddy.” I’m in Him. I’ve been chosen in Christ. I’m blessed with every spiritual blessing. What in the world am I doing living such a frustrating, depressing and discouraging life?
Well, it’s one thing to know truth. It’s another thing to experience truth. It’s one thing to understand it. I’ve had people come to me and say, “I understand that truth, but it hasn’t helped me.” You see you might understand it, but you haven’t yet learned to receive it and walk in it.
The other day I got on a plane with three other fellows. We went out to Houston, Texas to look at the Urban Alternative there in Houston. We got there and spent three and a half hours in a meeting after we had landed. Then we quickly got on a Southwest Airlines commuter flight, and flew to Dallas. We got to Dallas, went to the hotel and went down to meet with Tony Evans. And Tony said, “Listen guys, I’ve got some tickets to the ballgame tonight, and I want you to go with me.” And I started thinking, “OOOH, we’re going to be with him. We’re going to go to the ballgame with him.” First of all, I figured we were going to have to drive because there were too many of us to get in his car. He said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ve got a special VIP pass for the van you’re going to be riding in. Don’t worry about where you’re going to park. You’re with me. Come on down.” We rode down. We got those little, special, official passes. I have still got it. We got our tickets. We walked up to the gate, and everybody said, “How are you doing there, Tony? How are you doing there, Tony?” I said, “How ya’ll doing? We’re with him.” We walked up to the gate. We didn’t have to go through the gate. Shoot no, man! He had a pass key. We walked inside this little door, got onto the elevator, went downstairs and walked in.
I sat at the table with the General manager of the Dallas Mavericks who loves Jesus as much as anybody I’ve ever been around. He started talking about how bad his team was doing and about all the mail he was getting and how they had made conscious decisions to be in the places they’re in right now. But he said his greatest burden was not to win in Dallas. His greatest burden was to evangelize that team to the Lord Jesus Christ. Wonderful person. Sat right there next to him in the VIP dining room because I was with him.
We finished eating and had to have a meeting. Where are we going to meet? Tony said, “Don’t worry, you’re with me.” We got on the elevator, went up to about the third floor and went into the Dallas Maverick’s office. We walked inside. There was a conference room. We sat down, shut both doors, and we just took it over. We had an official pass on. One guy who was sitting in there looked up, and I said, “How you doing? We’re with him.”
After we finished the meeting, he said, “Ok, guys, you ready to go have some fun. Let’s watch the ballgame.” I said, “Am I ready? That’s what I thought we were going to do anyway. Not have this dumb meeting.” So we got on the elevator and went down downstairs. We didn’t go through all the lines where the people were. Oh no. We walked out the team entrance right on the floor. And when we walked out, everyone just kind of turned their head. I wanted to say, “How ya’ll doing? Good to see ya. I’m with him. Hey man! I’m special. I’m with him. I’m identified. I got the pass. See it right here.” We walked over. We didn’t sit in the bleacher seats. They had chairs set up on the actual floor. I’ve seen these before but there are usually all these real dignitaries sitting down there. I sat three rows from the team. These guys are big that play pro ball. I didn’t understand how big they were from just watching them play on television. These are huge people. Sitting down there I had more fun looking around at the people in there. They were probably saying, “Who are they?” “Hey, we’re with him. We’re somebody. We’re special. We’re identified with him.”
Now you see, the next time I hear that illustration it’s going to be a whole lot more meaningful to me than the first time I heard it. And I know I’ll hear it again because Tony is like the rest of us preachers. He uses illustrations to death. Sometime he’ll come and speak, and he’ll use it again. Oh, the first time it excited me. And I thought, “Isn’t it wonderful to be identified with Him.” Now I have been there, and I have participated in it.
The difference is not just in understanding it but appropriating it in your life. You’ve been chosen. You’ve got a little pass on you. It’s a mark of the blood of Jesus and the mark of the Spirit of God in your life. If you’ll study the covenant you’ll see how this fits together. It’s like a glove and a hand fitting together. You’ve been marked wherever you go. When you go in the grocery store people say, “Oh look at that guy. He’s overweight.” Or “He’s too skinny.” Whatever else they say, they still look at you like, “Who is that person?” And you can say with tears flowing down your cheeks, “Listen folks, I’m saved by the grace of God. I’m special to my Father. My Father chose me before the foundation of the world.” You can go out into life and wherever you go you’re marked. And you see, the difference is Tony is not recruiting other people to come to his ballgames. Any time you try to use an illustration it always fall short somewhere. There’s no illustration in human life that will ever depict a scriptural truth. It just sort of gives you an idea.
But you see, in the Christian life, that’s the beauty. You can find somebody who doesn’t have that mark on them and say, “Hey, would you like to have it? It is only by the grace of God that I have it. And I would love to share with you how you could be with Him and be identified in Him.” I think the saddest day in a Christian’s life is when he’s embarrassed to tell others that he’s with Him. That’s what wrong with us. Because you see when you get involved with sin, immorality, those kinds of things in your life, it takes away all the joy that should have been yours. You took your pass, and you stuck it in your pocket where nobody could see it. You didn’t want anybody to know you’re identified with Him. And you start looking for things other ways, and you realize you can’t find them anywhere until you come back to the one whose identified you with Him.
I’ve been blessed. You’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. If I’m not walking in obedience to Him, forget the blessings. If I’m ready to come back to Him, there they are. They haven’t gone anywhere. Forgiveness of sin, cleansing by the blood. All of them are there. But not only have we been blessed, we’ve been what? Chosen before the world ever existed. “Oh Brother Wayne, I need to do something to deserve it.” Hey folks, you were chosen before you even knew you would be around. You didn’t have a chance to do anything. God went ahead and made the choice. That’s the key. So I hope this is going to mean something to you. There’s a reason He blessed us. There is a reason He chose us. It’s all in the verse. But that’ll be the next time.